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Hal and Sammy: After Dark

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Sammy Davis Jr. After doing some research last week, I unearthed two more Playboy After Dark episodes. One is from May 1970 and features singer Hal Frazier with Buddy Rich, a pianist and a possibly a soundtrack—since we never see the band. The other is from November 1960 and features Sammy Davis Jr. with some sort of Music Minus One recording.

Both clips are dual time capsules, showcasing enormous talent in action—as well as mind-blowing creepiness by today's standards. Hal [pictured above] and Sammy are terrific singers, and watching them remind you just how talented you had to be to even get near a TV camera back then. 

But the clips also cough up plenty of odd, uncomfortable moments—like Buddy Rich trying to be Hef only to realize that puffing on a pipe while drumming maybe isn't such a good idea. Or the “cool cats" in the background dancing awkwardly. Or Sammy drinking and smoking while singing. Or pinching a black woman's cheeks too hard—twice. Or the faux, unfunny bar scene. Or the tired impersonations. Or Hef's groggy, vacuous girlfriend at the end.

So let's be honest: the suit-and-dame days glamorized on TV's Mad Men were actually pretty jerky, inappropriate, obnoxious, condescending to women, and fairly cancerous—given all the smoking. Personally, I think we're all much better off that those days of the national male midlife crisis have passed.

With that said, here's Hal Frazier singing I've Got a Lot of Living to Do (watch for the ridiculous pipe)...



And here's Sammy Davis Jr. singing The Gal That Got Away, The Lady Is a Tramp, a medley of hits, My Funny Valentine and Chicago...


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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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